Eye On Boise

Land Board endorses lease for mining project despite firm’s ‘high-risk’ finances

Gov. Butch Otter asks questions about a proposed lease of state endowment lands for a mining project near Bovill, Idaho on Tuesday. The state Land Board, which Otter chairs, unanimously endorsed the lease. At right is state Lands Director George Bacon. (Betsy Russell)
Gov. Butch Otter asks questions about a proposed lease of state endowment lands for a mining project near Bovill, Idaho on Tuesday. The state Land Board, which Otter chairs, unanimously endorsed the lease. At right is state Lands Director George Bacon. (Betsy Russell)

Idaho's top state elected officials have voted unanimously to sign a 29-year lease of state lands for a proposed feldspar and quartz mine and mill near Bovill, Idaho, though the Canadian firm proposing the project has generated no operating income and is deemed financially "high-risk." Jane Wittmyer, consultant for the i-minerals USA project, told Idaho's state Land Board the project could generate 60 to 80 new jobs in the area. "The bottom line is this is a good project that will help fund the endowments," she said. Idaho's state endowment lands largely benefit the state's public schools.

The state Land Board, which consists of the governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the state controller, and the state superintendent of schools, voted unanimously in favor of the lease on Tuesday. At the recommendation of state lands staff, it'll be a "phased" lease, requiring increasing payments and bonding as the project progresses. The firm first applied for a lease in 2008; the project is enthusiastically supported by local officials in the area including Benewah County Commission Chairman Jack Buell. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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